Projector Buying Guide
Table of contents
Do you find yourself focusing your eyes on a small TV screen to watch movies or a tiny notebook display to read reports? A more comfortable and delightful experience is available via projector, which makes movies and presentations simply larger than life (up to 100 inches or more) for clearer and more detailed images. With the development of projection technology, most home and small business users can now afford to own a projector.
At Newegg.com, projectors offered range from LCD to DLP and from mainstream to professional. Home and business users alike will be able to find projectors that fit and function perfectly both for the office and the home and enjoy maximum visual quality and impact as well as enhanced work efficiency.
There are two types of projector technology currently: LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) and DLP (Digital Light Processing). Let's find out how they differ:
LCD projectors are subdivided into two groups: One LCD and Three LCD.
Unlike LCD projectors, DLP units utilize a DLP chip containing millions of micro mirrors to processing the light and color. This approach allows DLP projectors to provide excellent color contrast and performance. This design also allows them to work continuously without stopping for longer* periods of time in comparison to LCD projectors (not to be mistaken with machine service life). Additionally the projector lamps in DLP projectors are also capable of longer service lives.
*An LCD projector that is in use for extended periods of time (6 hours or longer) can become very hot. To avoid having a projector crash because of heat, users must allow the projector to cool from time to time by turning it off. This is not needed in DLP projectors. The service life of a DLP projector lamp is also longer than that of LCD projectors (LCD: 1500~2000hours, DLP: 2000~3000hours) due to the different thermal attributes of the projector.
Similar in concept to the LCD display resolution, the resolution of a projector is the number of pixels displayed in the projected image. Projectors offering higher resolutions can display more information on screen and higher quality images.
Generally speaking, projectors offering lower picture resolutions are intended for home use such as displaying standard definition movies. Projectors offering higher resolutions are typically intended for business use as they are capable of showing more onscreen information and sharper looking images at longer distances. Higher resolution projectors are moving into the home at a rapid rate, however, as DVD players and digital TV broadcasting are providing high resolution picture signals that help make the most out of a high resolution projector's capabilities.
Here are the four most popular projector resolutions in use today:
Projector Resolution and HDTV compatibility
Although some projectors support picture resolutions higher than native specification, the projected images are generally resized versions of the original with a slightly reduced image quality level. For example, an HDTV compatible projector with a native SVGA or XGA resolution will be able to accept incoming HDTV picture signals that are then resized to the projector's native resolution.
On the other hand, HDTV compatible projectors providing WXGA or SXGA level native resolutions will be able to project a full 720p HDTV picture.
The brightness of a projector is a very important factor in its performance as the color and picture quality is to a large extent influenced by brightness. Insufficient brightness can cause images to look less clear and colorful.
A projector's brightness is measured in ANSI (American National Standards Institute) lumens. A higher brightness specification means that the projector is capable of a higher level of image brightness.
Contrast Ratio is a measure of the difference between the brightest white and the darkest black areas of an image.
In scientific terms, contrast is the ratio between the light intensity of the brightest and the darkest points in an image. What it does in practice is to allow a screen to show both light and dark details as well as possible. A higher contrast performance often allows darker details to show better and therefore improves picture quality.
Lens & Zoom
Most projector zoom lenses are either motorized or manual designs. Motorized lenses typically feature an auto focusing function so users can adjust the size and shape of the projected image simply via remote controller. Manual designs require lens adjustment by hand.
Like most TVs, projectors also support a variety of signal formats. This means that a user must pay attention to the projector signal format support. The format support must match the output signal format in order for the image to be projected. Analog signal formats include NTSC, PAL and SECAM; while HDTV formats include 720p and 1080i.
Video connectors vary from model to model. Different applications require different connectors.
The common different applications' requirements on connectors are as follows:
For home DVD movie playback: RCA (Video), S-Video, Component
Please see our Connectors guide for more details.
For convenience, projectors sometimes feature built-in speakers for direct audio output. This allows business users to perform small group presentations easily without the need to hook up a set of external speakers. Home users, however, can enjoy a greater level of audio quality by utilizing a separate home audio system.
Size & Weight
If you are a home user and your projector unit does not get moved frequently, the size and mass of a projector is of relatively small importance. If, however, you are a business user who needs to move a projector frequently from one meeting place to another, the size and weight must then come into consideration. Our recommendation for indoors business use (projectors that get moved around) are for models weighing no more than 5lbs. For mobile professionals we recommend ultra compact projectors weighing 2lbs to 3lbs.